Chances are high that most Citrus students weren’t aware we had many new visitors from Japan in the first weekend of March. AND there were a lot of awesome bands performing too. Bummed out you missed it? Well don’t fret, you weren’t invited anyway, but for good reason.
This thing called the Kenshu Program was started back in 1998. It was formed to teach Japanese students about musicianship and music journalism. The program, directed by Alan Waddington, allows students to visit California for a week and explore our culture as well as learning various skills needed to succeed in the music business.
On March 1, the Kenshu students were taken on a tour of the Los Angeles Times. During the trip, the focus was placed on the journalism aspect of music. The students participating in this workshop learned how to conduct interviews, write news features, and critical reviews. On day two, they put their new skills to use by conducting interviews with John Easdale, the lead singer of the popular 80’s band Dramarama.
Meanwhile, those who were more interested in the stage production and audio aspect of the music industry attended a different workshop in the Campus Center. Tim Younghans was in charge of the group and emphasized the importance of Kenshu.
“This seminar shows the students how stressful it is,” said Younghans. “We’re exposing them to new techniques that they wouldn’t see in Japan.”
While in the Campus Center, the students were treated to a day full of performances. The students were broken up into six groups and put in charge of the stage production, band management, and audio/sound effects. It was here that a group of Citrus students took the stage to perform under band names like Ska Denver and Ska-Na-Na, covering standard ballads like “Blue Moon” by The Marcels.
“We’re supposed to make sure the show doesn’t go smoothly,” said Josh Holt, drummer for Ska Denver and Ska-Na-Na. “We have to cause as many problems as possible.”
From throwing microphones and speakers off of the stage to refusing to leave at all, the bands made sure to give the stage managers firsthand experience at dealing with unruly musicians. Something that will no doubt be useful for anyone pursuing a career in music.
“We’re teaching them about live performance,” said Kana Yamato, keyboardist and host for the day. “Anything can and will happen.”
Kenshu attendee Nana Sudi Yama, 19, said it was hard to communicate, but that she was having a great time nonetheless. As a student of Fukuoka School of Music, Yama hopes to pursue a career as an audio engineer.
Kaoru Yamada, 19, also attends Fukuoka School of Music and said he was glad he learned how to deal with accidents and stressful situations.
In the afternoon, all of the participants of Kenshu attended an outdoor show in front of The Haugh Performing Arts Center. While taking a lunch break, the bands Maggie Moon and Red Heart Kodiak entertained the crowd.
Nineteen-year-old Yushi Tanka described the event as a useful learning experience and thought that the bands were great.
As for the biggest difference between Japan and the United States? Tanka laughed and replied “the food.”